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The Natural Remedy Room
by Betty Castleberry
08/25/06
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The storefront was painted a creamy white, with a sharply contrasting turquoise door. The sign above the door read, “The Natural Remedy Room.”

Marilyn stepped inside, and was instantly transported into a different world. Outside, the traffic still raced by, and the sun beat down without mercy, but inside it was cool, and almost cave-like. A pungent odor immediately filled her nostrils. Incense burned just inside the door, and in a back corner hung an ornate Moroccan lamp. Narrow display shelves held racks of herbs and vitamins. Along the back wall were larger shelves, stocked with an array of books. Everywhere she turned were small tables displaying sparkling crystals, and aroma therapy candles, lotions, and gels. A large reflexology chart hung on the wall behind the cash register.

From the back of the shop, a lady appeared. “May I help you?” She asked.

“No thank you, I’m just looking,” Marilyn replied, a faint smile crossing her lips.

“All right. Let me know if I can help. My name is Julia. If you’d like some tea, help yourself. Today it’s black cohosh. I’m feeling like I need an estrogen boost.” She winked knowingly at Marilyn. “The tea pot’s in the back by the book shelves.“

“All right, thank you.” Marilyn was a bit surprised at the way Julia was dressed. She had strawberry blonde hair, pulled up on top of her head, and secured with a flowered bandana. A row of silver studs decorated her ear lobes. Her navy blue dress had a long flowing skirt, and was trimmed with silver fringe. She wore a wide silver belt around her waist, but what really caught Marilyn’s attention was Julia’s bare feet. Her toenails were painted navy blue, and a silver toe ring adorned the third toe on each foot. If it had been thirty years earlier, Marilyn would have labeled Julia a “hippie.”

The store was interesting. Marilyn had never been in a place quite like it before. She stopped at a table covered with a lavender cloth. There were lavender scented candles and potpourri on the table. In front of the display was a hand-lettered sign which read, “Relax.”

She made her way to the back of the store, and examined a few books. They had titles like, “Heal Yourself Naturally,” “Handbook of Eastern Philosophy,” and “Know Your Spirit Guide.”

She was about to walk away when one book caught her attention. It had a plain black binding, which gave no clue as to what it was. When she pulled it out, she saw that it was a bible, and a particularly beautiful bible, at that. The leather binding was soft and the front was embossed with a large cross. She flipped through it. Inside, there was colorful art work depicting scenes from bible stories. Marilyn thought it was lovely.

Julia emerged from the back room again. Marilyn asked her, “How much is this bible?”

“Well, honey, I’ll have to go look that up for you. It’s the only one I have, and it’s been here a while. Isn’t is beautiful, though? Such a nice copy, but we just don’t sell many bibles.”

Marilyn needed no time to think. "It doesn't matter how much it is. I'll take it."

As she made her way to the cash register, she glanced at the displays around her one last time. Although she liked Julia’s friendly manner, she knew she wouldn’t be returning to “The Natural Remedy Room.” Every cure, every piece of advice, and all the spirituality she would ever need was in the precious book she was holding.


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